Amateur adventurer, food lover and freelance writer. Peace.
Published July 22nd 2018
If you're a fan of Rick Stein and happen to be visiting sunny Cornwall with a foodie adventure in mind, you'll be spoilt for choice in the picturesque town of Padstow, where Mr Stein has no less than six eateries, some of which come with accommodation options. One of these wonderful restaurants with rooms is St Petroc's Bistro, which is a stone's throw away from the iconic Stein eatery The Seafood Restaurant.
If you've seen the eye-wateringly large numbers next to the dishes on The Seafood Restaurant's menu, don't let that put you off exploring Stein's other establishments in Cornwall. It was a happy accident that my partner in dine and I came across St Petroc's Bistro. On our way down the hill, hoping to get a table at Rick Stein's Cafe, we came across the unassuming and inviting white brick building straddling a tight corner on New Street and decided to check the menu board.
The exterior of St Petroc's Bistro
We were surprised that it was one of Rick Stein's places and incredibly surprised when we saw the menu's reasonable prices and beside ourselves when we noticed the Prix Fixe menu and its many offerings. All plans for the cafe were abandoned as we rushed inside hoping to find a free table.
The entrance to St Petroc's Bistro
Luckily it was still before the rush of peak tourist season in Padstow and we shared the entire cosy restaurant with just one other couple; what a privilege! From the warm yellow lighting, white washed wooden walls, pale wooden floorboards and sea-themed original paintings hanging on the walls, the place was understated and had a sense of accessible luxury.
We were seated and given the menu promptly, and had attentive but not over-the-top service, which was of just the right tone given the setting. An impressive wine list with options from the new and old world and some unusual varieties made choosing the drinks a difficult but fun exercise. We decided the Prix Fixe menu was definitely the way to go food-wise. For just under £20, you can eat three fabulous courses from a choice of three options for each course. Now sometimes with these fixed-price menus you may only be able to choose from gastronomic yawn-fests like pasta, burgers or soup but there was a fish option on both the starter and main list. And while soup was one of the starters, this beetroot extravaganza was anything but boring.
The beetroot soup starter
Chargrilled Cornish sardines wrapped in vine leaves
For starters, we had the rich, earthy beetroot soup that was like heaven blitzed up into a bowl and the chargrilled Cornish sardines wrapped in vine leaves. With just a squeeze of lemon to temper the oiliness of the fish and the char, it was perfection. The sardines were fiddly to eat but that's part of the deal if you want to order whole sardines.
For mains, we had the butternut squash risotto and Hake alla Carlina, which was an expertly panfried fillet of Hake sitting on a cushion of flavourful and tangy tomato-based salsa. The risotto was intensely buttery and luxurious with dainty cubes of caramelised butternut squash scattered over the top of the dish.
Hake alla Carlina main dish
Creamy, buttery butternut squash risotto
Despite being quite full already, the commitment to the three courses was strong and for dessert, we both ordered the vanilla panna cotta, which was served with almond praline, crushed candied pistachio, blackberries and a blackberry gel. This was a work of art and gastronomic delight, and I found it hard to believe my luck at finding such indulgence on a fixed-price menu.
The third course - vanilla panna cotta
With the privacy afforded by the emptiness of the restaurant we were able to make throughly satisfied noises to our heart's content. By the end of the meal, we were two very happy campers and ready to explore the pretty town of Padstow. But before leaving St Petroc's, we nosily poked our heads into the private dining room, which was designed by Jill and Kate Stein and seats 14 for intimate dining experiences at no extra cost to hire, as well as the cosy bar where you can relax with a drink anytime.
If you can't fit in a full three courses, don't worry, the Bistro also offers two courses for £17.50. The Prix Fixe menu options do change but the menu is available every day for lunch or for early dinner until 6.30pm. See a sample menu and book here.
It will be hard not to go back to St Petroc's Bistro the next time I'm in Cornwall but there are many more Stein-themed foodie adventures to be had! If you're in Cornwall don't miss a trip to Padstow and if you visit Padstow make sure you try this gem of a place. Find them on New Street, Padstow, PL28 8EA. There is plenty of pay and display parking nearby.